Mass Reading & Meditation for May 15, 2013
Meditation: Acts 20:28-38
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
What a tender moment! It is a final farewell from the apostle Paul, who had not only founded the church at Ephesus but lived among them for three years. During that time, God did extraordinary miracles through him, and the gospel message continued “to spread with influence and power” (Acts 19:20).
But the Ephesian elders weren’t crying in admiration of Paul’s accomplishments. Rather, theirs were tears of affection for a brother. And Paul, in turn, was concerned not for the continuation of his ministry but for the survival of this precious flock that God had entrusted to him—especially “the weak” among them (Acts 20:35).
The church in Ephesus boasted great leaders like Apollos: bright people who quickly grasped the significance of Paul’s message. Paul must have really enjoyed teaching such eager converts. However, he said nothing here about this aspect of his ministry. He seemed more concerned with those at the other end of the spectrum. His heart seemed deeply attached to the humble and lowly—those who enjoy a special relationship with the Lord.
Every community, every congregation, every extended family has its own “weaker” members. Through whatever combination of genetics, upbringing, sin, and even hard luck, it is unlikely that they will ever be able to take care of themselves adequately. But Paul singled them out especially. He grasped Jesus’ words that those with more should care for those who are in need.
Such a philosophy goes against our human nature. Those who move quickly can find it irritating to slow down for the ones who lag behind. It can be hard for someone with a quick mind to have to explain things to someone who just doesn’t get it. Instead of putting ourselves in their shoes, we tend to expect them to walk in ours. This wasn’t Paul’s way, and it certainly isn’t Jesus’ way! So let’s take up the gospel call to love as our Father loves. Let’s make it a point to extend his mercy—a mercy that belongs to the strong and weak alike—to everyone.
“Jesus, pour your grace on your poor and needy brothers and sisters. Let their cries pierce my heart. Show me how I can be your arms to encourage them and lift them up.”
Psalm 68:29-30, 33-36; John 17:11-19